Yesterday, after blogging about Xerox’s Ignite software, which turns photocopiers into machines that evaluate student work (including writing), I tweeted this:
A photocopier that grades student writing? No thanks @xeroxcorp. You're all about profit, not learning. smokingtowardnewjersey.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-br…
— NJ Parents (@NJParents1) May 17, 2013
To my surprise, I actually got a response from Xerox:
@njparents1 #Xerox Ignite helps teachers w/grading, but real value comes in ID'ing learning gaps, so teachers can focus on student needs.
— XeroxCorp (@XeroxCorp) May 17, 2013
Isn’t that reassuring? The soulless data produced by mechanized evaluation would NEVER replace the human touch. It only makes the teacher’s job easier by identifying problem areas. Then the teacher can better meet student needs!
Wait a minute...that sounds kind of familiar. Isn’t that exactly what they used to say about standardized testing? The testing companies reassured us that the tests are tools to help teachers gauge student progress and identify learning gaps. That’s all they’re designed to do. They would NEVER use the tests for other purposes. Evaluate teachers and schools based on these tests? That would be crazy! I mean, my goodness -- next thing you know, teachers will be teaching to the test! Pearson wouldn’t want that, now would they? And Pearson would NEVER attempt to drive education policy toward higher stakes testing in order to sell more of their product, now would they?
So when Xerox says their student-evaluation photocopier upgrade is just a helpful tool for teachers that would never become an automated grading system that every school would be required to purchase, of course we believe them.
Imagine a world where teachers not only teach to the test -- they teach to the photocopier’s scoring of the test.